Wisconsin UM/UIM Motorists Claims Amid COVID-19
Posted by PKSD Law Firm on June 8, 2020 in Car Accidents
Amid the fallout from COVID-19, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate skyrocketed to 14.1 percent in April, causing approximately 393,000 residents to file new claims for unemployment benefits. According to US News and World Report, this percentage of unemployment has not been seen in Wisconsin since the Great Depression. In Milwaukee alone, more than 60,000 residents filed for benefits.
For drivers on the roads, this could mean that many Wisconsin residents who are either unemployed or underemployed may reduce their car insurance coverage to the bare minimum, miss a payment or two, or worse still, let their coverage lapse altogether.
At PKSD Law, we see the economic devastation our community is facing, so today we are providing some important, lesser-known information about Wisconsin’s uninsured and underinsured (UM/UIM) benefits to help keep you – and your finances – protected while you are driving on the road.
Uninsured Car Accident Claim
If you are in a car crash with an at-fault party who is not insured, your uninsured (UM) motorist policy will kick in and compensate you for damages up to other party’s liability, or the limit of your policy, whichever comes first. The question is, do you have enough protection?
Under Wisconsin’s current insurance requirements, you only have to purchase limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. However, once you exhaust those limits, you will either have to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver’s personal assets, which will likely net you nothing, or pay the remainder of the damages out of your own pocket.
In an accident where the at-fault driver is insured by only the minimum limits required by law, it may be barely enough to cover the damages for many accidents. This type of incident is not covered by your UM protection, but if you purchased optional uninsured motorist benefits (UIM), then you may be able to pursue a claim for damages through that portion of your policy, again up to the limits of the damages or your policy, whichever comes first.
Many may choose not to purchase this coverage at all since, unlike UM protection, underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) is not required in Wisconsin. Under these circumstances, if you did not purchase UIM coverage and the cost of recovering damages from the accident exceeds the at-fault motorists policy limits, you will be stuck paying for the remainder out of pocket.
How Does Wisconsin’s Comparative Negligence Apply in an UM/UIM Claim?
If you are in a car crash and share some of the liability, then your claim will be impacted by Wisconsin’s comparative negligence law. Under this state law, each driver is assigned a percentage of fault based on his or her assessed degree of negligence. It is important to note that if you are assigned a percentage of fault in this type of accident, you will have to pay that percentage of the damages.
Important Details About Wisconsin’s UM/UIM Law You Do Not Want to Miss
After changes were made to Wisconsin’s insurance law in 2011, policyholders may have noticed some of the most obvious changes, such as the significant reduction in bodily injury requirements (from $50,000/$100,000 to $25,000/$50,000), but did you catch all of the fine print?
Here are some important facts about Wisconsin’s uninsured motorist coverage:
- Insurance companies can insert “reducing clauses” in your auto insurance policy. This type of clause allows the insurers to deduct other damages or benefits that you may receive as the result of an injury from your UM/UIM payment, such as disability benefits or damages paid by the at-fault party’s insurance company.
- Stacking auto insurance policies, which is the practice of combining the UM/UIM portions of multiple auto insurance policies in a single household, is no longer permitted in Wisconsin.
- Your insurance company does not have to provide a clear-cut definition of what an underinsured motorist is across all policies. Rather, the existing law allows insurers to define what an underinsured driver is per individual policy. This includes the ability to decide when UIM coverage may or may not apply.
The bottom line is that you should regularly review your insurance policy, including the fine print, and make sure you have enough coverage and that you understand what is and is not included. Remember that state limits define only the minimum coverage required. However, you may want to increase those limits to better protect your finances in the event of an accident.
Get Legal Assistance From One of Our Experienced Lawyers Today
At PKSD Law, we are prepared to help those who have been injured due to the negligence of an uninsured driver. These claims are often more complicated, and injured victims can greatly benefit from the extensive knowledge of our Milwaukee car accident lawyers.
If you have been injured by the negligence of another driver, we recommend that you contact our firm as soon as possible. We offer a consultation to discuss your potential car claim and legal options at zero cost and no obligation to you. If we represent you, we do not collect our fees until the case is settled, so there is no risk for you to schedule your free claim review today.
PKSD Law. Legal help when you need it: 877-877-2228